OSHA Announces Proposed Revisions to Fall Protection Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced proposed revisions to the rule governing fall protection standards in the Federal Register on May 24, 2010. OSHA intends the revised rule to reduce the number of fall-related employee deaths and injuries by updating the rule to include new technology, such as personal fall protection systems. According to OSHA, the revised rule “reorganizes the rule in a clearer, more logical, manner and provides greater compliance flexibility.” OSHA also drafted the rule in simpler language in order to make it easier to understand.

The proposed rule would revise the walking-working surfaces standard (Subpart D) to reflect current industry practices and national consensus standards, harmonize the standard with construction and maritime standards, and use performance-oriented language rather than specification-oriented language.

The new rule would also revise the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard (Subpart I) to include new requirements for fall protection equipment. Currently, this standard contains general requirements for all types of PPE, but does not specifically contain criteria for fall protection PPE. The new rule would add this specific criteria, which would be codified as 29 C.F.R. §1910.140. OSHA proposes to amend a number of general industry standards that already set a duty to use fall protection PPE by requiring that the PPE meet the new requirements in §1910.140. Finally, OSHA proposed adding two appendices to Subpart I to provide examples of test methods and procedures that will assist employers and PPE manufactures in complying with the criteria in the standard.

For more information, view the entire proposed rule at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-10418.htm.

Author: Nathan Pangrace


Ohio Court Acknowledges that Supervisor can be Individually Liable, but Affirms Summary Judgment

On April 30, 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Butler v. Cooper Standard Automotive, Inc., Case No. 09-3349, affirming summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff’s former supervisor.

The plaintiff, Jimmie Butler, filed suit against both his former employer and former supervisor alleging race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of state and federal law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the named defendants finding that the plaintiff could not show that his employer’s legitimate reasons for his termination were merely pretext for discrimination and that there was no allegation of discrimination severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.

Because the employer had filed for bankruptcy protection, the Court of Appeals only addressed whether summary judgment was appropriate as to Butler’s supervisor, Timothy Barnhisel. Citing an earlier Ohio Supreme Court case, the Court of Appeals first acknowledged that a supervisor may be held jointly and/or severally liable with his or her employer for discriminatory conduct of the supervisor in violation of Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112. This rule is in contrast with federal case law, which provides that an individual cannot be liable for violations of Title VII. Wathen v. General Electric Co. (C.A.6 1997), 115 F.3d 400.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the plaintiff had not created a question of fact as to whether his termination was the product of his supervisor’s discriminatory conduct. The Court noted that Mr. Barnhisel was not involved in the incident leading to the termination of Butler’s employment. The Court also found that there was insufficient evidence that Mr. Barnhisel unlawfully discriminated against Mr. Butler in assigning work in an effort to get him fired.



Roetzel & Andress Expands to New York to Enhance Client Service

We are pleased to announce the addition of Roetzel & Andress' New York office, located at 245 Park Avenue in New York City, to better serve our existing and growing client base. This office complements the firm's existing operations in Florida, Ohio and Washington, D.C.

According to Timothy J. Ochsenhirt, chairman and chief executive officer of Roetzel & Andress, "New York City serves as the nation's financial capital, and the needs of the companies resident and transacting business there are well-matched with our firm's strengths."

A number of the firm's New York-licensed attorneys provide complex legal services in areas including sophisticated business transactions in the capital markets arena, securities litigation, securitization, banking and finance, health care litigation, white collar and criminal defense, and commercial litigation.

With this new market entry, Roetzel & Andress continues to expand its geographic footprint across the eastern U.S.